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Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Freedom on the Net 2016- Silencing the Messenger: Communication Apps Under Pressure
Freedom House
Internet freedom has declined for the sixth consecutive year, with more governments than ever before targeting social media and communication apps as a means of halting the rapid dissemination of information, particularly during anti-government protests. Public-facing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been subject to growing censorship for several years, but in a new trend, governments increasingly target voice communication and messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. These services are able to spread information and connect users quickly and securely, making it more difficult for authorities to control the information landscape or conduct surveillance.

The limitations of randomised controlled trials
VOX/The Centre for Economic Policy Research
In recent years, the use of randomised controlled trials has spread from labour market and welfare programme evaluation to other areas of economics, and to other social sciences, perhaps most prominently in development and health economics. This column argues that some of the popularity of such trials rests on misunderstandings about what they are capable of accomplishing, and cautions against simple extrapolations from trials to other contexts.

Promoting Content In Africa
Internet Society
The vision of the Internet Society is that the Internet is for everyone, everywhere, and to help achieve this aim we have conducted a number of studies of barriers to connectivity in emerging regions. This report continues in that vein, but represents a shift from examining the barriers to accessing content. As a starting point we note that, as a result of new investments in access infrastructure including notably mobile Internet networks, Internet availability now far outpaces adoption, and raises the question of why adoption is lagging behind. Sub-Saharan Africa has seen great improvements in connectivity infrastructure and affordability in recent years. In spite of this, the growth in Internet adoption is stagnating. This report starts from the general premise that a greater emphasis on the demand for Internet connectivity is required to increase adoption rates. Specifically, the report focusses on a number of areas that need to be addressed in order to facilitate local content availability and content distribution.

The Rising Tide of Water Insecurity: Moving from Risks to Responses
New Security Beat
“Water is the frontline of climate change. It’s what every report that you see identifies as the sort of first and foremost effect we see from a climate changing world,” said Sherri Goodman, a public policy fellow at the Wilson Center and formerly of CNA and the U.S. Department of Defense, on October 19. As the climate changes, availability and access to water is changing and growing increasingly uncertain in some regions. Water has multiple implications for human development and national security. It affects agriculture, drinking water, and global health; diplomacy through transboundary agreements and upstream and downstream water sharing; and defense outcomes, such as state fragility, humanitarian missions, and new military equipment and basing requirements.

Trade in services and economic transformation
ODI
While much of the current debate on economic transformation centres around transforming agriculture and moving into manufacturing, the potential of services is often left unexplored. A proper understanding of the trade dimension of services lies at the frontier of new analytical work on economic transformation. It is crucially important for policy-makers in low-income countries, many of whom may not regard services, or trade in services, as a prime focus of action on economic transformation. This report explores how policies both directly and indirectly affecting trade in services can have a major impact in terms of increasing the contribution of services to economic transformation. It is often assumed that services follow transformation, but as in reality services also enable other sectors, it is important for economies to follow a balanced growth path where services and other sectors grow in tandem. Policy-makers need to update their evidence base on such linkages so they realise how services and other sectors grow together. What is the role of trade in services in economic transformation and what can be done to improve the contribution? This report seeks to answer these questions by reviewing what is known about the relationships between trade in services and economic development and identifying areas for further research, quantifying how these relationships work and exploring short case studies where countries have actively promoted exports of services.

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